Posts Tagged Nolan Ryan

Lotta Sports from the Women’s POV – Was It The Lucky Doll?

This column appeared in the Winter 2017/2018 issue of Heart Beat of the Texas Hill Country

I moved to Houston in 1964 where the baseball team was known as the National League Colt 45s and they played in an open stadium south of the city.  The following year, the team moved to the Astrodome, nicknamed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and the team was renamed the Astros.  It was fitting as NASA and the space program were just down highway 45 going towards Galveston.  Because the stadium was closed in, an artificial turf was installed for the games to be played on.  Above the scoreboard was an area where two bulls snorted, pistols fired and music played when the Astros hit a homerun.   The Astros center fielder Jimmy Wynn was nicknamed the “Toy Cannon.”  I knew when Wynn batted, there was a pretty good chance the hit would be a homerun.

My favorite player was 2nd baseman Joe Morgan who used to quickly lick two fingers just before taking his batting stance.  I was a true fan and even sent him a Get Well card when he was in the hospital.  All the girls loved right-fielder Rusty Staub with his red hair and the handsome pitcher Larry Dierker.  Bob Aspromonte was the tall, lanky 3rd baseman.   One had to be a diehard fan — – the Astros weren’t very good, but we still loved the team.   Dad and I attended several games and even sat through the longest shutout ever played.  The Astros beat the Mets as Houston scored the only run in the twenty-fourth inning at one-thirty in the morning!

When I moved away in the 80s to the DFW area, I didn’t get to see the Astros games since I was living in an American League city.  My parents were still in Houston and my mom morphed into a huge Astros fan with her favorites — pitcher Nolan Ryan and shortstop Craig Reynolds.  The ‘Stros were actually doing a lot better making it to two National League Championships and one Division Championship game in that decade, but typical of the team, they lost all three of those games.   One Christmas, I found the perfect gift for her – an Astros Cabbage Patch doll waving a pennant.  Also included was a cute little Houston batting helmet.  My niece Jennifer was very impressed that Santa brought her Grandma such a special gift.    In 1989, my mom’s Astroworld came crashing down.  Nolan Ryan had signed with the Texas Rangers!   Ironically, my parents moved to an assisted living in North Texas the following year.  Mom reluctantly adopted the Texas Rangers, but her heart was still with the Astros.  Her collection of Nolan Ryan baseballs, baseball cards and the Astros doll were displayed on a bookcase.   Hanging in her closet was her yellow, orange and red striped Houston jersey.    Meanwhile the team moved from the antiquated Astrodome to Enron Field.  The bulls, pistols and fireworks were replaced by a whistling locomotive over the outfield.

Mom passed away in 2003.  Her Astros finally made it to the big dance just two years later, but the series was ugly with a sweep by the Chicago White Sox.    This year Houston not only got to the World Series but they were there as the underdog.   The series went seven games with Houston shutting down the Dodgers in game seven 4 -1 and finally winning the big prize.  Nolan Ryan is back with the ‘Stros as their executive adviser.   Something tells me there’s an angel in Heaven celebrating the World Series Championship win and who is happy Nolan is back where he belongs.

Astros Doll

Mom admiring her Astros Cabbage Patch doll

mom1

Mom with Nolan Ryan cutout

 

 

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‘Lotta Sports from the Women’s POV – America’s Pastime

My column appears in the Heart Beat of the Texas Hill Country — distributed quarterly throughout the Texas Hill Country.

I love baseball. It actually started back in the 60s in New England. I was raised in a neighborhood consisting primarily of boys my age so I quickly learned what baseball cards were used for. I exceled in a game where you flipped a card against another person and the best combination flip would get to keep both cards. I won some great cards and I kept them in one of my Dad’s cigar boxes … Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Brooks Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Harmon Killebrew. In the late 60s, we moved to Houston as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Astrodome, finished completion. I became an Astros’ fan and revered legends such as Rusty Staub, Jim Wynn, Joe Morgan, Bob Aspromonte and Larry Dierker.

Fast-forward to the fall of 1986 when I moved to the DFW area and started working the Texas Rangers’ baseball charters for Delta Air Lines. The following spring found me talking hubby Rick into replacing our ski vacation with spring training in Port Charlotte, Florida. Spring training provided a more relaxed atmosphere where you got to meet the players. In late 1988, to the thrill of Ranger fans and to the dismay of Astros fans — especially my Mom — Nolan Ryan signed on with Texas. That man’s arrival created almost as much excitement as winning the lottery. The Rangers’ charters became “prime real estate” on the bid sheet and flight attendants senior to me who didn’t even care about baseball were infiltrating my turf! Nolan was self-conscious with all the attention coming from the media and fans.

The following year, Mom, who was in her late seventies, asked me to take her to spring training. We flew into Sarasota-Bradenton. I got goofed up leaving the airport and after some time found us heading south toward Naples instead of north to Port Charlotte! By the time I got turned around, we had reached the city limits just before nine p.m. The restaurant on the wharf wouldn’t seat us, as they were trying to close. Needless to say, we were now pretty hungry even by central time standards! A good flight attendant (as well as former Brownie/Girl Scout) always has a Plan B to put in place. I knew of a small restaurant that the players frequented and stayed open late.   As we perused the menu, Mom excitedly told the waiter how I worked the Rangers’ charters for Delta. He smiled and told us that one of the players was there — Nolan Ryan. I quickly scribbled a note and gave it to the waiter to give Nolan. A few minutes later the waiter returned and said Nolan wanted to meet Mom. He then escorted us back to a banquet room. Mom was finally going to get to meet Nolan Ryan! She was beside herself! There stood Nolan and another gentleman. I introduced Nolan to my mom. He, in turn, introduced us to Craig Reynolds, a former shortstop for the Astros. Mom immediately dropped Nolan’s hand and threw her hands up to her face. “Oh, my! Craig Reynolds! I can’t believe it!”

Now, according to Nolan, Craig never let him forget that moment — a fan getting more excited over Craig than Nolan! Later that year Mom had knee replacement surgery. When she died and I went through her things, I found in her mementos a Get Well card Nolan signed for her. Yep… Mom dumping Nolan for Craig was just a momentary lapse in judgment.

Mom at Rangers Spring Training in Port Charlotte FL - 80's

Mom at Rangers Spring Training in Port Charlotte FL – 80’s

 

Mom posing by Nolan Ryan cutout.

Mom posing by Nolan Ryan cutout.

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‘Lotta Happenings – Nolan and Mom

As the baseball season approaches its conclusion I look back on some of my fondest memories.  It actually started back in the 60s in New England.  I was raised in a neighborhood consisting primarily of boys my age so I quickly learned what baseball cards were used for.  I exceled in a game where you flipped a card against another person and the best combination flip would get to keep both cards.  I had some great cards and I kept them in one of my Dad’s cigar boxes … Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Brooks Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Harmon Killebrew.  In the late 60s, we moved to Houston as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the Astrodome, finished completion.  I became an Astros’ fan and revered legends such as Rusty Staub, Jim Wynn, Joe Morgan, Bob Aspromonte and  Larry Dierker.   Dad and I attended several games and even sat through the longest shutout ever played.  The Astros beat the Mets as Houston scored the only run in the twenty-fourth inning at one-thirty in the morning!   It was before cell phones so we had a lot of explaining to do to my mom when we arrived home at three am!

Fast-forward to the fall of 1986 when I moved to the DFW area and started working the Texas Rangers’ baseball charters for Delta.  Needless to say for this sports nut, it was fun being around players who shared my passion of sports.  Rick, my husband of less than a year then, would rather have cooked his latest creation or garden over my watching ESPN.  The following spring found me talking Rick into replacing our ski vacation with spring training in Port Charlotte, Florida.  Spring training used to provide a more relaxed atmosphere and you would get to meet the players.  Rick surprised me and actually enjoyed the experience so much that we returned every year until their move to the Cactus League in Arizona.

In late 1988, to the thrill of Ranger fans and to the dismay of Astros fans — especially my Mom — Nolan Ryan signed on with Texas.  That man’s arrival created almost as much excitement as winning the lottery.  The Rangers’ charters became “prime real estate” on the bid sheet and flight attendants senior to me who didn’t even care about baseball were infiltrating my turf!  Fortunately I flew “In Charge” (a position many avoided) so I was able to keep my foot in the door.

Nolan was embarrassed with all the attention coming from the media and fans.  I felt sorry for him, as one night we witnessed a fan interrupting his family meal to ask for an autograph.  That same year, Mom, who was in her late seventies, asked me to take her to spring training.  We flew into Sarasota-Bradenton.  Without Rick with us, I got goofed up leaving the airport and after some time found us heading south toward Naples instead of north to Port Charlotte!  By the time I got turned around, we had reached the city limits just before nine pm.  The restaurant on the wharf that I had bragged about to Mom wouldn’t seat us, as they were trying to close.  Needless to say, we were now pretty hungry even by central time standards!  A good flight attendant (as well as former Brownie/Girl Scout) always has a Plan B to put in place.  There was a small restaurant that the players frequented and stayed open late.   As we perused the menu, Mom excitedly told the waiter how I worked the Rangers’ charters for Delta.  He smiled and told us that one of the players was there — Nolan Ryan.  I quickly scribbled a note and gave it to the waiter to give Nolan.  A few minutes later the waiter returned and said Nolan wanted to meet Mom.  He then escorted us back to a banquet room.  Mom was finally going to get to meet Nolan Ryan!  She was beside herself!  There stood Nolan and another gentleman.  I introduced Nolan to my mom.  He, in turn, introduced us to Craig Reynolds, a former shortstop for the Astros.  Mom immediately dropped Nolan’s hand and threw her hands up to her face.  “Oh, my!  Craig Reynolds!  I can’t believe it!”

According to Nolan, Craig never let him forget that moment — a fan getting more excited over Craig than Nolan!  Later that year Mom had knee replacement surgery.  When Mom died and I went through her things I found in her mementos a Get Well card Nolan signed for her.  Yep… Mom dumping Nolan was just a momentary lapse in judgment.

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